NBA Notebook: Hack-a-player, All-Star 2015 and Trade Deadline Moves

Photo courtesy of butthegameison.com

Photo courtesy of butthegameison.com

My NBA Notebook is back just in time for the All-Star Break! I will use this notebook format to quickly touch on various topics from around the Association. Sorry ZML fans, I know it’s been a while. On this notebook page I will touch on four topics: All-Star Weekend, players I am 99 percent sure will be traded before the February 19 deadline and the Hack-A-Player.

Now that I got all of that out, lets get to my NBA notebook:

 

Hack-A-(Insert professional basketball player’s name here who struggles to make FREE Throws)

Last night during the Rockets vs. Clippers game on ESPN the “Hack-A-Jordan” tactic was used by Rockets head coach Kevin McHale with 4:15 left in the game. The Rockets were trailing by 10 at this point and statistically the move to foul DeAndre Jordan every time the Clippers gets the ball makes sense: Jordan is a career 42.4 percent free throw shooter, and was 12-26 from the line in last night’s game.

Jordan was fouled eight times in a row and went 7-16 (43.7%) from the free throw line during this time, which actually matches his career average from the line pretty accurately. The Rockets and Coach McHale would have signed up for that any day as they were trying to come back. Unfortunately Houston couldn’t make up any ground while using this tactic, and were actually minus-2. The score was 100-90 with 4:15 left when the Rockets started fouling Jordan, and found themselves down 12 (107-95) with 2:26 remaining when they fouled for the last time.  DeAndre Jordan made just enough free throws to hold the lead, in addition to the Rockets not being able to buy a 3-point (9-45) shot the entire game.

This constant pause in the action to watch a professional basketball player miss free throws gave commentators Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy plenty of time to share their opinions on the “Hack-A-Player” tactic. Van Gundy argued a rule should be put in place so teams couldn’t hack a player, saying it was not fun for the fans to watch a player go to the line and struggle to make 1-of-2 free throws. Jackson countered using the coaches perspective (remember both of these guys were respectable head coaches once upon a time) saying he says he understands and agrees when coaches try to use the poor free throw shooting to their advantage.

Before I give my opinion I was to reiterate one more thing Mark Jackson said during the telecast. He said a rule change not allowing teams to “Hack-A-Player” would allow/enable a poor free throw shooter like Jordan to stay on the floor and not be penalized for it. This fits into exactly why I believe a rule to make the Hack-A-Player tactic illegal is a terrible idea. On a different note I also think not allowing teams to shift defensive players in baseball is also a bad idea and makes it acceptable for players to have glaring weaknesses in their game.

Maybe this is the basketball-fanatic in me talking, but I found myself watching the game around 1am last night very intrigued to see if Jordan would make enough free throws to hold the Clippers’ lead. I honestly love watching the Hack-A-Player stuff trying to figure out how a professional (remember, basketball is their job) makes LESS THAN HALF of their FREE throws. It’s their job people, and I don’t want to hear that their hands are too big. I just don’t buy that stuff. These terrible free throw shooters can practice or change their shooting form. I heard shooting underhand could increase their percentage, but these guys won’t do it because they would be mocked. Well then keep shooting the “normal way” making less than 50 percent.

Putting a rule in place to ban the Hack-A-Player just makes it okay for a professional to be bad at shooting free throws. How about all of those bad free-throw shooters practice and get better at it; this is the other way the make this Hack-A-Player stuff go away.

 

All-Star Weekend: It’s weird I’m actually excited for the Saturday Night festivities?

The big debate at first was the All-Star Snubs, but with all of the recent injuries to guys like Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and Dwayne Wade that conversation is no longer worth having. The Celebrity Game is always fun to watch and it appears a lot of big name stars will play in it again this year.

All-Star Saturday Night is going to be one hell of a show for the first time in a long time. I don’t think I have even been as excited for the Dunk and Three-Point Contests. Participating in the Dunk Contest is a lot of young, but very talented and athletic dunkers who should put on a really good show: (in order of where I think they will finish from fourth to first) Mason Plumlee, Victor Oladipo, Zach LaVine and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak should live up to his name and while watching don’t forget his only 20 years old! Reggie Evans couldn’t believe it either:

https://vine.co/v/OPWeiHu7q5L/embed/simple

LaVine has some scary hops for a player his size and has given us a little preview of things we might see this weekend:

Pretty sure there was a Jamal Crawford sighting in that video! These are from when LaVine was in high school, but if he does some of these Saturday night he might just run away with the contest. It’s not just the dunks themselves which are impressive, but it’s also how easy LaVine makes them look.

Enjoy this top-ten of dunks from all four participants:

The Three-Point Contest also have some big names that should put on a good show as well. (In the order I think they will finish, this time first to last): Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson, Wesley Matthews, J.J. Reddick, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Marco Belinelli. This list features the best 3-point shooters in the league. It will be very interesting to see how guys like James Harden and Kyrie Irving do as spot-up shooters when in games they usually have to create their own shots. As I was looking for a 3-point contestant’s video I was reminded Marco Belinelli won last year’s contest?!

For the first time in a long time I have good reason to be excited for All-Star Saturday Night!

 

Two players that will be on new teams after the February 19 trade deadline (and why)

Reggie Jackson: I think the most obvious “most likely to be traded” player in the league. Oklahoma City had to make a decision about whether they were going to match any offer Jackson as he enters restricted free agency this upcoming summer. If the answer is “no” it makes sense for OKC to move him before the deadline instead of losing him for nothing this summer. The odds of Jackson being traded went up exponentially once the Thunder acquired Dion Waiters from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Waiters, like Jackson, is a ball-dominant guard. Playing these guys together doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and hasn’t really worked so far, so look for Jackson to be on a new team come February 19. Don’t try to ask me what team, but the Knicks and Celtics are teams that come to mind who still need a starting point guard.

David Lee: This one is a little less talked about, but hear me out. Just like the Thunder, the Warriors have a big decision to make this offseason with restricted free agents Draymond Green (who will likely also draw max offers). Golden State has already extended Klay Thompson four years for 15+ million dollars a year. The Warriors still have Andre Iguodala for two years after this season for 11 million dollars a year. One good thing is Stephen Curry is under a very cap-friendly contract (11-12 million dollars a year) until the summer of 2017.

All this being said signing Green would definitely put them well over the cap for next season, and considering how well they are currently playing the Warriors ownership might be willing to suck it up and pay the tax next year. One salary in play to get rid of is David Lee’s who is owed 15.5 million dollars next season. By moving David Lee the Warriors would be a lot closer to the salary cap for next season even after they sign Draymond Green. Trying to figure out what team would take on Lee and his contract for next season is still a mystery. A draft pick will almost definitely have to be attached to Lee for any team to even think about this trade.

*Other players to watch out for – Ray Allen: he is signing with the Cavs people, its just a matter of when. Jermaine O’Neil: he will be a Dallas Mav and play for his former head coach with the Pacers Rick Carlisle. Shoutout to Jalen Rose for calling this one months before it happens! Keep Poppin’ The Trunk!

 

If you have any suggestions for what I should talk about in my next NBA/NFL/MLB Notebook or in my next podcast, please feel free to email me at zoccosmodernlife@outlook.com.

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